Historical Hotel with Chic Dining and 24-Hour Yoga Studio
The Sofia Hotel in downtown San Diego is the only property in the city listed on the Historic Hotels of America. Though it opened under its current name only five years ago, the property dates back to 1927, when it debuted as the Pickwick Hotel. Originally comprised of two towers, the hotel was a huge success almost overnight—it was the first in the city with en suite bathrooms, and the critics loved its neo-Gothic architecture.
In 2006, almost 80 years after its construction, the Pickwick reopened as The Sofia Hotel. A $16 million renovation managed to preserve many of the building's original architectural elements, including the crenellated roofline and terra cotta embellishments. A stylish restaurant and lounge, along with other amenities, were added during the overhaul.
Located on the first floor, Currant American Brasserie is billed as a "modernized version of a classic French bistro.” The dining room's traditional black-and-white color palette is jazzed up with edgy leather chairs and crystal chandeliers. On the dinner menu, you'll find contemporary takes on classic French dishes such as steamed mussels in a spicy curry sauce, and herb roasted pork loin topped with a fried egg. During nightly happy hours, crowds gather at the bar for $5 martinis or full-price absinthe cocktails infused with real wormwood liquor.
There are plenty of ways to relax at the hotel, ranging from meditation sessions in the 24-hour yoga studio to aromatherapy massages at the spa. Traditional guest rooms and suites reinforce the peaceful vibe with ambient bedside lighting and natural wood furnishings.
San Diego, California: Historical Attractions and Electric Nightlife in Southern California
San Diego's sunny, comfortably warm weather and 70 miles of coastline have long attracted vacationing out-of-towners, but the city's inland scene is no slouch, either. The Gaslamp Quarter is arguably one of the trendiest listings on the National Register of Historic Places. The area forms both the historic center of town and a hub of San Diego nightlife, with nearly 100 Victorian-era buildings now occupied by high-end boutiques, jewelers, and gourmet restaurants.
During the day, a stroll through iconic Balboa Park takes you past 17 separate museums, as well as the world-famous and much beloved San Diego Zoo. There's also the vibrant Spanish Village Art Center, a living gallery where local artists continuously produce pottery, handblown glass, and oil paintings for sale.
Farther north, in Old Town—site of the first European settlement in California—shops in Mission-style stucco buildings sell colorful wrestling masks, woven baskets, and maracas. Nearby stands The Whaley House Museum, dubbed one of the Most Terrifying Places in America by the Travel Channel. Ghosts of former residents are said to inhabit the rooms, which are filled with Victorian furniture, eerie dolls, and squeegees for ectoplasm cleanup.